What Does a Health Care Ethics Consultant Look Like?

Results of a Canadian Survey
  • Michael D. Coughlin
  • John L. Watts
Part of the Contemporary Issues in Biomedicine, Ethics, and Society book series (CIBES)


When the Network on Health Care Ethics Consultation began developing “A Profile of the Health Care Ethics Consultant,” it quickly became apparent that information was needed about who was actually doing ethics consultation, what kind of training and skills they possessed, what ethics activities they engaged in, and what their views were on certification. Such knowledge would serve as a “reality check” on the deliberations of the Network and would help focus the discussions.


Doctoral Degree Clinical Ethic Ethic Consultation Ethic Consultant Health Care Ethic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    A number of studies have examined the qualities and training of ethics consultants, but not from an empirical perspective. See, for example, Terrence F. Ackerman, “The Role of an Ethicist in Health Care,” Health Care Ethics: A Guide for Decision-Makers, eds. Gary R. Anderson and Valerie A. Glesnes-Anderson ( Rockville, MD: Aspen, 1987 ) 308–320;Google Scholar
  2. Françoise Baylis, “Moral Experts and Moral Expertise: Wherein Lies the Difference?” Clinical Ethics: Theory and Practice, eds. Barry Hoffmaster, Benjamin Freedman, and Gwen Fraser ( Clifton, NJ: Humana, 1989 ) 89–99;Google Scholar
  3. Peter A. Singer, Edmund D. Pellegrino, and Mark Siegler, “Ethics Committees and Consultants,” Journal of Clinical Ethics 1 (1990): 263–267;PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. John La Puma and David L. Schiedermayer, “Ethics Consultation: Skills, Roles, and Training,” Annals of Internal Medicine 114. 2 (1991): 155–160;Google Scholar
  5. David C. Thomasma, “Why Philosophers Should Offer Ethics Consultations,” Theoretical Medicine 12 (1991): 129–140;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. John La Puma and E. Rush Priest, “Medical Staff Privileges for Ethics Consultants: An Institutional Model,” Quality Review Bulletin 18. 1 (1992): 17–20.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 2.
    Society for Bioethics Consultation, 6th Annual Meeting, Chicago, Sep. 1992.Google Scholar
  8. 3.
    Joyce Bermel, “Ethics Consultants: A Self-Portrait of Decision Makers,” Hastings Center Report 15. 6 (1985): 2.Google Scholar
  9. 4.
    Donnie J. Self and Joy D. Skeel, “Professional Liability (Malpractice) Coverage of Humanist Scholars Functioning as Clinical Medical Ethicists,” Journal of Medical Humanities and Bioethics 9 (1988): 101–110.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. After we submitted this chapter, a further report of the Self and Skeel study appeared: Joy D. Skeel, Donnie J. Self, and Roland T. Skeel: Joy D. Skeel, Donnie J. Self, and Roland T. Skeel, “A Description of Humanist Scholars Functioning as Ethicists in the Clinical Setting,” Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics 2 (1993): 485–494.Google Scholar
  11. 5.
    Michael D. Coughlin and John L. Watts, “A Descriptive Study of the Health Care Ethics Consultant in Canada,” HEC Forum 5 (1993): 144–164. The authors express their appreciation to the publisher of HEC Forum for permission to use material from that chapter in this chapter.Google Scholar
  12. 6.
    Coughlin and Watts. The slight discrepancies in the data presented here and in the preliminary analysis are due to more careful screening for duplicate responses and to a different method for assigning “primary discipline” (i.e.,“feeder” discipline) to the respondents.Google Scholar
  13. 7.
    Peter Allatt, “The Ethics Committee Network of South Central Ontario (Canada),” HEC Forum 3 (1993): 212–216.Google Scholar
  14. 8.
    Kindly provided by Professor Marie-Hélène Parizeau, coordinator of the GREM (Groupe de Recherche en Éthique Médicale). The study is published as Les Comités d’Éthique au Québec: Guide des Resources en Centres Hospitaliers ( Montréal: Government of Québec, 1991 ).Google Scholar
  15. 9.
    In the study by Self and Skeel, 15% of those providing ethics consultation were women.Google Scholar
  16. 10.
    La Puma and Schiedermayer.Google Scholar
  17. 11.
    It is important to note that until extremely recently, Canadian universities did not give doctorates in nursing.Google Scholar
  18. 12.
    For a similar discussion, see Berme’.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Coughlin
  • John L. Watts

There are no affiliations available

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